back to article Running on empty, out of battery, power draining... three things the UK government definitely isn't. Oh no

Bork is apparently going live, as a segment in UK breakfast show Good Morning Britain neglects to consider Microsoft's thirst for power – of the electrical variety, of course. Spotted by Register reader John O'Connell, the borkage was beamed live into the nation's homes following education secretary Gavin Williamson's gaffe in …

  1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

    Running on empty?

    Oh yes we are-

    Electric car charging points in people’s homes will be preset to switch off for nine hours each weekday at times of peak demand because ministers fear blackouts on the National Grid.

    Under regulations that will come into force in May, new chargers in the home and workplace will be automatically set not to function from 8am to 11am and 4pm to 10pm. Public chargers and rapid chargers, on motorways and A-roads, will be exempt.

    First they'll come for your car chargers, then laptop and phone. Or they'll just not charge anyway because we've got rolling blackouts due to no wind or solar.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Running on empty?

      Downvote for paywalled link.

      1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

        Re: Running on empty?

        Downvote for link to the Murdoch press as well

    2. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: Running on empty?

      There's a whole lot of kite flying between now and next May.

    3. W.S.Gosset Silver badge

      Re: Running on empty?

      Well, the Brit transmission industry-boys have stated that the retail transmission grid will need to triple in capacity to cope with 100% use. So factor that humongous cost in as well. (Just the _maintenance_ of existing grid capacity is one third of current bills, so I shudder to think what it'll cost to have that much capital cost rolled in on top too.) But demand-management wise, they'll probably just throttle back all houses they see are charging cars (from their centrally-reported realtime current-demand). So they won't actually full charge anyway.

      SmartMeters are specifically designed to provide and implement this capability, in case you've ever wondered why it's the _industry_ that's so gung-ho about such an expensive countrywide rollout: they are remote controls for your house. Initial motivation was just profit, but they can also be used defensively.

      "Wind & Solar" is a bit of a furphy, btw. 85% of the UK's renewable energy is actually from chopping down and woodchipping forests to burn in very very VERY dirty versions of coal plants. Not sure what the current numbers are for the US but a few years ago, they were running at just under 60% from woodchips.

      1. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

        Re: Running on empty? @WSG

        Where do you get your information about UK renewable energy?

        I'm looking at, and this is currently showing 3% of all generation as coming from biomass (about 0.95GW) while wind and solar are just under 4GW. The biggest at this time (17GW, ~50% of all instantaneous generation) is Combined Cycle Gas Turbine, but today is a bit of a dull day, and the weather is quite calm, so there is not so much solar and wind being generated.

        But it is clear that the bulk of peak demand is coming from gas, which needs to change at some time.

        1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

          Re: Running on empty? @WSG

          It was a greenwashing thing until coal power was shut down. Throw a handful of woodchips into a 4GW coal plant and it becomes a "co-firing" "partial carbon-offset" "alternative energy" power generator.

          It allows you to claim that >50% of your power comes from semi-renewable sources, while still burning coal.

          It's like the cars that turn off the engine at traffic lights and call themselves "Partial Zero Emissions Vehicle"

          1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

            Re: Running on empty? @WSG

            "It's like the cars that turn off the engine at traffic lights and call themselves "Partial Zero Emissions Vehicle""

            My car does the stop/start thing too, but I've never seen it called, referred to or even associated with the phrase "Partial Zero Emissions Vehicle". In fact, I've never even heard that phrase before you posted it here.

            1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

              Re: Running on empty? @WSG

              A bunch of Japanese cars here have it, there is even a little green leaf logo that goes with it.

              Might not be a thing in Europe (and any small outlying islands)

              1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

                Re: Running on empty? @WSG

                Apparently PSEV is a California thing and even more of a con.

                It just requires that cars don't pour unburnt fuel from the exhaust and don't produce clouds of burning oil smoke.

      2. TRT Silver badge

        Re: Running on empty?

        plentiful supply of sawdust and hot air available in Westminster.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Running on empty?

        A/C because I'm in the industry, and close to system design.

        Transmission, that is, power movement at 132kV and above, there is capacity available. Just not necessarily in the right places. All those south east coast interconnectors - great, but you need to be able to move that power across boundaries where previously the only flow was a drip feed north to south. London isn't built with bypassing flow from South to north in mind. The london power tunnels being built now are part of the solution but not all.

        Windmills in the north east - same issue. Sure, they take up the capacity previously occupied by coal burners. But there's a lot more wind coming on over next 10 years (contracted) than coal went off.

        These are known and solvable problems which will need relatively low levels of capex to solve. The bigger problem is the fallback for low wind, which needs a ton of storage adding as BEIS and Ofgem recently acknowledged. There isnt yet an inventive to build storage, which needs attention. Also, Grid or the distro networks are legally prohibited from doing it ( for same reason it's not allowed to operate commercial generation).

        The real problem is at distribution levels, so 132kV and coming down to your home. A few car chargers - fine. But dump one on 60-70 percent of houses, and capacity of the cables and transformers upstream will be eaten rapidly. Smart meters can remotely curtail power. It does not take a genius to put two and two together to see where this is going. Distro will have to expand a lot to accommodate demand - and it is no accident that WPD have just been bought by NG with this in mind. (capex translates into long term income because of the way things are financed.)

        Don't like this finance model? Then vote for a political party in favour of nationalisation instead.

        As for statistics about what proportions of power are what, gridwatch is your friend. Biomass is a relatively small contribution to UK total, and wind/solar have been regularly reaching 50pc or more. Gas, and occasionally coal have to spin to make up the shortfall. (And provide system stability / frequency reference/response).

        1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

          Re: Running on empty?

          But the engineering difficulties of running an overhead cable from the North to the south are unimaginable.

          We should stick to the trivial problem of extracting an explosive liquid out of rock a mile underneath a freezing stormy arctic sea.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Running on empty?

            Indeed, running lines around you would think would be a lot easier than trying to extract explosives from very hostile environments. OHL Conductors have been around quite a long time. The engineering is very possible; but try getting planning permission...

            See also, West Yorkshire line, which remained delayed by lack of planning permission for nearly 10 years (as any MP that supported it was signing their losing the next election).

            The IPC was formed to avoid such situations, however, it's every bit as slow and useless, if not slower.

            Underground cable as opposed to bare overhead conductors are possible; but comparatively pricey. See London Power Tunnels 1/2 for an idea of what's involved. Construction work underway right now south of the Thames.

            Britain needs to decide what it wants and back it, not NIMBY itself into problems.

            A good blackout or two would sharpen the focus back onto doing what's actually needed.

  2. RM Myers Silver badge

    "plentiful supply of sawdust and hot air available in Westminster."

    And any place else with a high density of politicians.

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